Netflix’s ‘Extraction’ is winning netizens all over the world with its slick action and stellar line-up. What makes it special for fans of independent music is to witness a starry cameo by Man.Goes Human, a lo-fi indie rock outfit, who’ve been rewriting the norms of the Delhi music circuit, since their formation in 2012. Having played across several Indian and international music festivals with about 125 gigs over 6 years, not only do they feature in the Chris Hemsworth-starrer but their song ‘No See’ from their 2017 EP, ‘Moonglasses’ finds a prominent inclusion too.
I caught up with the band’s guitarist Sharan Gulati who spills the beans about how a tour to Thailand got them their biggest international visibility, for Radio City Freedom.
A tour to Thailand, got you ‘Extraction’? Elucidate on this fascinating story.
Sharan: It all started with a DIY tour to Thailand. After our Singapore tour, we had been working for another International tour, we were in touch with a musician friend in Thailand and planned a 4-city tour in November 2018 with him. Thailand turned out to be one of our best experiences, the people loved us and we loved them, and the food was delectable. We were almost thinking of not doing the tour though, you see you never end up making money off these DIY tours. Breaking even is more than you can hope for (which we did). But this? No sort of payday could even come close to this!
After the tour we got a mail somewhere around February 2019, from the production crew at Netflix saying they loved our song ‘No See’ and they’d like to buy our song and also – ‘cast us’ in the movie. One thing led to another, and two weeks later, we were in Thailand. And we all know how it turned out from there ;)
Tell us about the 12-hour long shoot that went into making your cameo scene and the experience of working with director Sam Hargrave?
Sharan: The set was huge, much bigger than what we expected. More than 150 extras on set, all taking cues from the Director (Sam Hargrave) and various Ads on the set. Multiple camera dollies rolling, some taking close ups of us on stage, some taking the scene from afar. Sound production team on our left, giving us cues when to start playing, as it was recorded live as well. Our own Vanity van, amazing food (for over 500 people on the set- who put it all together)., costume & make-up teams taking their sweet time with us. It was awe-inspiring.
Sam Hargrave is such a humble guy, we didn’t feel like we were standing with a person whose daily life revolves around designing stunts for the superheroes of Avengers. He told us he loved our track, thanked us for making the trip at such short notice, and was considerate enough to wear our Moonglasses (that’s our merchandise) & click a couple of pictures with us! We would love to shoot for him again!
You’ve acquired immense international repute. Tell us about the third international scheduled tour to Vietnam which has been cut short due to the outbreak of the global COVID- 19 pandemic.
Sharan: What a trip 2020 has been right? As if indie bands had any less troubles. We had been gearing up for another tour to Vietnam (Our 4th international tour & 2nd to Vietnam), to play at a festival on the beaches of Ho Chi Minh city. We’d been working on new music to experiment there, looking forward to April 2020. But everything’s been delayed now. All we can hope is the festival only gets postponed and not cancelled. But looking at it is, it’s a hard truth we might not be having any music festivals for a while – which is necessary for the times. But we’ll come out stronger as always. WFH gives us more time to play and learn new things.
How would you summarise the journey of the band so far since the time you began in 2012?
Sharan: It all started as a group of friends (and a younger sibling). We composed a Hindi track called ‘Khoon Kharaba’ for fun, which we performed at our first show in Kirori Mal College in 2012. We never thought we will take this up seriously, but the support over the years led us to continue & form our own niche. At that time, our aim was to play one gig at Hard Rock Café! Who knew we would have done over 200 shows across 4 countries in 8 years & also appeared in a Hollywood production!
How important is it for a band to stay rooted despite all the name and fame that follows them around?
Sharan: Oh we wish we knew how to not stay rooted. Indie bands don’t have another choice but to stay rooted no matter what life throws at us. Because if we don’t, we know what’d happen next time we go asking for a gig and don’t expect a question like ’30 log toh apne le aaoge na?’. We wouldn’t know fame it was staring at us in the face.
Speaking of the indie scene in Delhi, in a recent interview, you were quoted to have said that while it is easier scoring a gig in the city, making money out of the same is difficult. Why so?
Sharan: Its easy because people here know us and our music. The venues know that we can pull audiences. Money for indie bands is always an issue, the live scene has been gradually declining over the past 3-4 years, with more focus on electronic music. Hence, we find opportunities, wherein we get paid more (like corporate shows et al), and then go exploring more audiences & maybe a Hollywood project!
How are the members holding up in this quarantine period?
Sharan: Staying busy keeps us sane. Zoom calls don’t work, houseparty is boring – so we’re back to phone calls. The guitarist believes doing ‘pocha’ is good exercise for the fingers, while the vocalist is shouting at the top of her voice at the flat mates, working on her pitch. And as usual, no one cares about the bassist, the manager or the drummer.
What’s next on the band’s to-do list?
Sharan: A new Music video launches next week. Then the Vietnam festival, we just can’t wait to head back to the South-East. Always looking at new countries to expand our footprint. Already working on more chances to get our songs in films.
Lastly, indie bands that you all are listening to?
Sharan: Not sure all count as indie – but here’s what we’ve been listening to. Radiohead as always, ‘King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’, Handsome Boy Modelling School, Polo & Pan, H3F and Lifafa are some others.
‘Extraction’ is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also check out all the songs by Man. Goes Human listed across leading music platforms.